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PROVERBS, XXvii. 10.

Thine own friend, and thy father's friend,


forsake not.


HATEVER relates to the behaviour SERMON of men in their social character is of great importance in religion. The duties which spring from that character, form many branches of the great law of clarity, which is the favourite precept of Christianity. They, therefore, who would separate such duties from a religious spirit, or who at most treat them as only the inferiour parts of it, do a real injury to religion. They are mistaken friends of piety, who, under


SERMON the notion of exalting it, place it in a sort XVII. of insulated corner, disjoined from the


ordinary affairs of the world, and the con-
nections of men with one another.
the contrary, true piety influences them
all. It acts as a vivifying spirit, which
animates and enlivens, which rectifies and
conducts them. It is no less friendly to
men than zealous for the honour of God;
and by the generous affections which it
nourishes, and the beneficent influence
which it exerts on the whole of conduct,
is fully vindicated from every reproach
which the infidel would throw upon it.-
In this view, I am now to discourse on the
nature and duties of virtuous friendship, as
closely connected with the true spirit of
religion. It is a subject which the inspired
philosopher, who is the author of this
book of Proverbs, has thought worthy of
his repeated notice; and in many passages
has bestowed the highest eulogiums on
friendship among good men. As ointment
and perfume rejoice the heart, so doth the
sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel.
As iron sharpeneth iron, so a man sharpeneth



the countenance of his friend. Make sure of SERMON thy friend; for faithful are the wounds of a friend. A friend loveth at all times and a brother is born for adversity. There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.Thine own friend, and thy father's friend, it is said in the text, forsake not,

I MUST begin the subject, by observing, that there are among mankind friendships of different kinds, or at least, connexions which assume that name. When they are no more than confederacies of bad men, they ought to be called conspiracies rather than friendships. Some bond of common interest, some league against the innocent and unsuspecting, may have united them for a time. But they are held together only by a rope of sand, At bottom they are all rivals, and hostile to one another. Their friendship can subsist no longer than interest cements them. Every one looks with a jealous eye on his supposed friend; and watches the first favourable opportunity to desert, or to betray. Friendships


Friendships too there are of a different kind, and of a more respectable nature, formed by the connection of political parties. It is not, perhaps, on selfish or crooked designs that such friendships are originally founded. Men have been associated together, by some public interest, or general cause, or for defence against some real or imagined danger; and connections thus formed, often draw men into close union, and inspire for a season no small degree of cordial attachment. When upon just and honourable principles this union is founded, it has proved on various occasions, favourable to the cause of liberty and good order among mankind. At the same time, nothing is more ready to be abused than the name of public spirit, and a public cause. It is a name, under which private interest is often sheltered, and selfish designs are carried on. The unwary are allured by a specious appearance; and the heat of faction usurps the place of the generous warmth of friendship.

It is not of such friendships, whether of the laudable or the suspicious kind,



that I am now to discourse; but of pri- SERMON vate friendships, which which grow neither out of interested designs nor party zeal; but which flow from that similarity of dispositions, that corresponding harmony of minds, which endears some person to our heart, and makes us take as much part in his circumstances, fortunes, and fate, as if they were our own. The soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David; and fonathan loved him as his own soul*. Such friendships certainly are not unreal; and, for the honour of human nature, it is to be hoped, are not altogether unfrequent, among mankind. Happy it is, when they take root in our early years; and are engrafted on the ingenuous sensibility of youth. Friendships, then contracted,

retain to the last a tenderness and warmth, seldom possessed by friendships that are formed in the riper periods of life. The remembrance of ancient and youthful connections melts every human heart ; and the dissolution of them is, perhaps, the most painful feeling to which we

I Samuel, xviii. 1.


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